Semi-spoilers for anyone who isn't caught up with The Walking Dead through the latest episode of Season 9.
For the most part, The Walking Dead ends its characters' stories in concrete ways, usually through uncomfortable, gore-infused deaths. Surprisingly, however, Austin Amelio's Dwight went completely AWOL after Season 8's finale capped off the All Out War. With Season 9's time jump and other show-altering elements, fans want to know where Dwight is, and the actor recently offered up his own answer. According to Amelio:
I'm going to find Sherry. I'm alive. He's not killing me. We'll see what happens.
Of course, this is largely what audiences were assuming was happening with Dwight, who finally found himself a banished, but free, man after Rick took Negan down once and for all. (Well, maybe not permanently.) The last time Dwight appeared on screen, he'd found a touching note from Sherry that inspired him to hit the road once more to find her.
Dwight's end-game exile certainly implied that Austin Amelio would be absent from Season 9, and the time jump did nothing to spark faith in his impending return. An all-around lack of Dwight in promotional materials has also made fans' hopes feel misguided. Still, Dwight wasn't ever shown to be brutally murdered, which Walking Dead overseer Scott Gimple confirmed means his chances of returning to The Walking Dead's narrative are better than 0%. Not huge, but then not everyone gets even those odds.
Though his TV story doesn't necessarily affect anything happening in current-day Alexandria or Hilltop (or the Sanctuary, for that matter), Dwight would spark quite a bit of intrigue if he resurfaced. It would likely mean he successfully found Sherry, either alive or dead. The emotional changes from one outcome to the other are vast, so we would possibly see either a more sated and understanding Dwight, or one completely ravaged by heartbreak and vengeance-minded goals.
Dwight's post-timeline return also might imply he would feel enough punishment and penance had been undertaken in the many months that had passed. Times are definitely hard out there for small survivor groups, so a desperate and downtrodden Dwight would possibly need to prove why he should be allowed back into one of the Virginia communities.
I think he's paid his dues at this point. I think it's fair. He hates Negan, he loves his wife. He's gonna go find his wife.
Obviously, no guarantees come attached to any character's hunt for a lost loved one. Granted, The Walking Dead started off with Rick being led to reconnect with Lori and Carl. Skipping ahead to Season 2, however, the group's extended hunt for Sophia ended in the darkest way possible, with the young girl getting walker-fied. Subsequent seasons have also offered up dismal resolutions after characters have disappeared. The missing Saviors from Season 9 are the most recent example on that front.
That said, The Walking Dead has had some fun in recent years by calling back to the earliest seasons in various ways. Its 100th episode intentionally mirrored the pilot in unexpected ways, and even Season 1's Morales returned for a short-lived twist. Plus, it was confirmed this summer that The Punisher's Jon Bernthal is making an appearance in Season 9 as the long-dead Shane Walsh.
Sure, the new Shane appearance is timed for Andrew Lincoln's final episode as Rick Grimes, and isn't quite comparable to Dwight's case. Still, it's an example of how The Walking Dead's creative team can repurpose its ensemble, past and present. So again, the character's biggest fans need not lose hope that Austin Amelio's Dwight could return to our TV screens in the future.
In the comics, Dwight was more easily embraced by Rick's group upon showing his allegiance. Despite some confidence issues, Dwight ascended to become the leader of the Saviors who remained together instead of joining the other communities, and was a leader within the military squad that came together. That obviously won't get adapted note-for-note for TV, which isn't such a bad thing.
Personally, I think it's more fun to consider the more fringe options for how Dwight might come back to The Walking Dead, since he probably wouldn't be welcomed back with open arms. (How do you really feel, Tara?) The time jump makes just about anything borderline-feasible, such as Jadis/Anne's efforts as a functioning member of society. Putting aside the fact that she predictably ruined it by calling in her helicopter people, the point still remains that time itself can often play the biggest role in changing characters' personalities.
What if Dwight makes a shocking return in one of the next few episodes, and is revealed HE is the cause of Rick's death? Not the most likely possibility, but being outwardly secluded in nature can take a harsh toll on anyone's mental state. Dwight could be driven insane by anger directed at Rick & Co. for putting him in that position in the first place.
Alternately, The Walking Dead could bring Dwight in to further assist in Maggie and Daryl's plans for Negan. It's not yet clear how far Maggie wants to take things before making her own exit, but her eyes are a window to all kinds of murderous intentions, which Dwight can sympathize with. As well, Dwight and Daryl obviously have way more in common than Daryl would ever admit, so bringing them together for a true team-up mission could make for some tense sequences.
Going further out into the depths of speculation, what if Dwight is involved with the helicopter pilot's human trafficking duties? Sure, he could be a participating member of that club, but I'd almost prefer to think that they possibly got a hold of Sherry somehow, and that he's aiming to take them down. (Every one of Dwight's returns is invested in revenge, it's true.)
As my last option here, I think it'd be great if Dwight was revealed to be part of the Whisperers whenever those chaotic villains get introduced. He's definitely not proud of the facial scarring that Negan caused, and in a world free from masked superheroes, I guess the next best thing for Dwight would be to cover his own face with that of a walker. As such, this option ties into both Dwight's self-consciousness AND him getting revenge against the good guys. A perfect fit, just like the skin suit.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to keep tuning in to see if and when Dwight may return. On the flip side, be sure to stay current with all the other new and returning fall TV shows that definitely won't feature Dwight's hunt for Sherry.